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The 'language of opportunity': Aurora prioritizes learning English as immigrants' key to success

English is the “language of opportunity.” That’s a line from Aurora’s 10-year Immigrant Integration Plan. Before creating this plan, the city conducted focus groups in 2019 with community members and found the two top priorities for immigrants and refugees were learning English and finding employment.

Research shows that immigrants who are proficient in English have higher paying jobs. Not only can they better support their families but the city of Aurora benefits too. The more money residents make, the more they can spend, and the more the city prospers.

To help foreign-born residents succeed, Aurora’s integration plan emphasizes education. How well are schools serving Aurora’s immigrant families?

The Colorado Dream: Newcomers Welcome episode three looks at efforts by two educational institutions and some of the unique challenges facing first and second-generation African students.

“A first generation African kid, my child can tell you, that goes to school acting like an American and then comes home and has to act like an African kid,” said Anne Keke, an immigrant from Côte d'Ivoire and Aurora Public Schools Board of Education Director.

Links and credits

Salwa on social media:

Also in this episode:

The Colorado Dream: Newcomers Welcome is a production from KUNC. It was written and reported by Stephanie Daniel. Editing by Johanna Zorn. Fact-checking by Cat Jaffee with additional help from Adam Rayes. This season's theme song was composed by Jason Paton, who also sound designedand mixed the episode. Additional music was composed by Matthew Simonson. Ashley Jefcoat is the digital editor. Special thanks to Chandra Whitfield, Robert Leja, Kyle Cunningham and Kim Rais. Sean Corcoran is KUNC’s news director. Tammy Terwelp is KUNC’s president and CEO.

The “American Dream” was coined in 1931 and since then the phrase has inspired people to work hard and dream big. But is it achievable today? Graduating from college is challenging, jobs are changing, and health care and basic rights can be a luxury. I report on the barriers people face and overcome to succeed and create a better life for themselves and their families.
Related Content
  • The Black immigrant population in Colorado is growing faster than anywhere else in the U.S. They come from Africa, the Caribbean and beyond, and many settle in Aurora, where about one in five residents is foreign born. A lot of them have overcome great challenges to emigrate here, including Salwa Mourtada Bamba.
  • Aurora created an integration plan to help immigrants and refugees succeed. What does that plan look like? Meanwhile, more than 15 years earlier, Salwa Mourtada Bamba gets a job and enrolls at the local community college as she settles into her new life in Aurora.